The following is an overview of the main types of software you will get to grips with during your three-year undergraduate degree at Escape Studios. In your first year, you'll learn the basics for VFX, Game Art and Animation, then specialise in your chosen area for years two and three.
You won't be expected to have used any of this software before, as you'll be taught the basics from day one! However, if you'd like to try them yourself before starting studying with us, why not come and visit us for a Taster Day where you'll get the chance to sit in the studio and test-run some of the following software...
Maya (All disciplines)
One of the most ubiquitous pieces of software in the VFX industry, Maya has a huge amount of functionality and has been around for a long time. Some of its main uses are 3D model creation, preparing for texturing, simulations, rigging, animation and rendering.
Nuke is the industry-standard compositing application for the large VFX studios. It is a powerful tool that allows CG renders and filmed footage to be brought together and combined to form the final result that you see on-screen. Increasingly advanced workflows such as FX and 3D geometry are possible without leaving Nuke itself, so it is not entirely accurate to refer to it strictly as a 2D application, as it once was.
Zbrush (VFX and Game Art)
ZBrush is a digital sculpting tool and a very fun piece of software to use mainly due to the creative shapes and forms that can be created, much like clay. Traditionally used in organic shapes such as creatures and humans, it now also supports a robust hard surface process for items such as props. Using its unique workflow, this is ideal for creating surface micro-detail such as skin wrinkles and pores, which can then be exported to other tools in a way that fits into their rendering processes.
Substance Suite (VFX and Game Art)
Substance Designer is a powerful tool used to create materials. By creatively manipulating data through visual 'nodes', the application can be used to create virtual versions of all kinds of real-world surfaces, or to create new ones that do not or can not exist in the real world. Its companion, Substance Painter, can be used to apply these substances and other imported textures to 3D objects in order to create a photo-realistic version of an object or character.
Unreal Engine (Game Art)
Unreal Engine is the real-time engine used primarily by our Game Art students. This allows impressive visuals to be displayed and interacted with, without having to wait for an offline static render. Commonly referred to as a “game engine”, the technology has been embraced by the VFX and Architectural Visualisation industries amongst others.
Other software you could use
Each workstation has several other software types, including (but not limited to) some of the following:
- 3D Equalizer
- Arnold / Redshift
- Toon Boom Harmony / Storyboard Pro
- Shotgun / Perforce
- Adobe CC Suite
- Reality Capture
Q: Do I need to buy any software to use at home?
A: No - the computers in our studios are kitted out with all of the software and hardware you'll need to use throughout the course. You can purchase these at home if you wish (some will have a free student edition, others you will likely be able to get a student discount), however this is not a requirement.
Q: Do I need any experience in using the software?
A: No - if you've not used the software before, that's not a problem as you'll learn them all from the basics. If you have used it before, it's good to have a refresher and get into best practices!
Q: Can I try using the software before I apply?
A: Yes - come along to one of our Taster Days if you'd like to try using Nuke, Unreal Engine and Maya to get a feel for what studying VFX, Games or Animation could be like.
Q: Why is it compulsory to study all three disciplines in my first year?
A: We do this so that you can understand the complete pipeline of creative processes. If, after studying a particular module, you decide you'd like to change course, you'll be able to do so after your first year (subject to availability). To find out more about what modules you'll be studying in your first year, take a look at Alex Williams' (the Head of Animation) blog.